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Breast Reconstruction Frequently Asked Questions

Pink Ribbon - Breast Reconstruction - Breast Cancer


  • What is breast reconstruction surgery?

Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that is done to rebuild a breast's shape after mastectomy. This surgery cannot restore what the woman has lost due to breast cancer because a reconstructed breast is normally devoid of any natural feeling.  However, this surgery can offer a result that does resemble a breast mound by using either a prosthesis (breast implant) or using the patient's own tissues from other parts of her body to form a flap - or could possibly be a combination of the two.

Every patient is different with their individual needs with their cancer diagnosis. 

The type of reconstruction will depend on:

  • body type

  • age

  • cancer treatment




  • What type flap techniques are available?

A flap technique is performed using fat, skin and a small amount of muscle. Where this muscle comes from depends on what procedure is right for the patient's body type.

Muscle flaps are made from the following areas:




  • Who is a good candidate for breast reconstruction?

A good candidate for breast reconstruction surgery is a patient that does not have other medical conditions or illnesses which could possibly interfere with the breast reconstruction surgery.  Patients need to exhibit a positive outlook and have realistic goals with the outcome of surgery.




  • When is the best time to do breast reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction can be started at the same time the mastectomy is performed - however each case is different. Breast reconstruction can be performed at any time after breast removal as well, and there are many women who may choose to wait. Emotional needs along with health conditions are all considered when deciding when the right time should be.




  • Who will do my breast reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction is done by a plastic surgeon.  When treating a patient with breast cancer, there is a team of physicians, radiologist and surgeons all working together.

The team consists of:

  • surgeons

  • medical oncologist

  • plastic surgeons

  • radiation oncologist 




  • Will my breasts look the same?

Your plastic surgeon will try to closely match your own breast to your existing one.  More than likely if you are only having one mastectomy, then the reconstructed breast will appear somewhat different. 

If the patient elects to have bilateral mastectomy, then the breasts being reconstructed will tend to match better, especially if the reconstruction is done with breast implants.




  • Will the breast feel the same?

If you are only having one breast reconstructed, then this breast will have a tendency to feel a little bit firmer than your natural breast. 

If you elect to have bilateral mastectomies, then both reconstructed breasts will feel the same.




  • Will I lose all sensation to my breast area?

The loss of sensation varies from patient to patient and the actual type of mastectomy that was performed.  Patients who are able to have immediate one stage reconstruction can regain some feeling into the area. Each patient is unique with their recovery and whether or not any feeling can be restored.




  • Is it better to have saline or silicone implants for reconstruction?

As even with breast augmentation, choosing the implant filler is a personal choice.  With breast reconstruction, due to the amount of tissue that is removed, silicone is normally the implant of choice, as it mimics the softness and feel of natural breast tissue.  There is less rippling with silicone implants as well.

There is also the newer double lumen implants that are a combination of silicone and saline.




  • Will my body reject AlloDerm?

Alloderm is human tissue that is derived from cadavers, in which all DNA is removed, so there is no chance of rejection. The Alloderm allows for the new tissue to regenerate by laying down a foundation. After six weeks following your reconstruction, your own tissue migrates into the AlloDerm forming a matrix to help support the breast implant.




  • How long will I be in the hospital?

If the procedure you choose is flap reconstruction, the hospital stay is around 4 to 5 days.  Reconstruction with immediate implants or expanders, the hospital stay is normally one day.






More Breast Reconstruction and Breast Cancer Information:








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